Press release

Killing with kindness

Tuesday 9 August 2005

  • 30% of dog owners still feed their pet chocolate
  • Cat owners unaware that cows milk can affect their pet's health

A survey by Saga Pet Insurance has revealed that many of the nation's pet owners are unaware that the titbits they are lovingly feeding their pet may in fact be harmful to their health. Despite campaigns every Easter and Christmas about the danger of feeding chocolate to pets, one in three dog owners and 6% of cat owners are still doing so.

It is less well known that other foods can have ill effects on cats and dogs. This may account for the fact that half of cat owners treat their pet to a tin of tuna meant for human consumption, even though it does not contain the vitamin B1 that cats need. 27% of cat owners said they gave their pet cow's milk, however this contains lactose which many cats find hard to digest and can therefore lead to stomach upsets.

Even meaty treats for pets can be harmful. One in eight dog owners admitted to feeding poultry bones to their pet, seemingly unaware that these can split and cause internal damage and result in a trip to the vets. One in five dog owners and one in eight cat owners say that they feed their pet liver, however vets advise that this should only be fed once or twice a week due to the high level of vitamin A, a build up of this can cause muscle and bone problems in pets.

Other foods that can be harmful to pets' health may come as quite a surprise for pet owners, for example 15% of dog owners feed their pets grapes although these contain a toxin which can damage the kidneys. Another real danger for pets are onions as these can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia.

Andrew Goodsell, Chief Executive, Saga said: "It will surprise many pet owners to learn that food they are giving their pet as a treat could be doing them harm."

The survey also revealed that 68% of dog owners and 36% of cat owners said that they fed their pets leftovers, however these could contain many of the ingredients that are not healthy for their pets such as onions or garlic. In addition vets advise that pets should not be fed foods high in sugar as these can cause similar problems to those found in humans such as dental problems.

Saga have published a free guide to pet health, which provides advice and guidance on the main aspects of pet health. To obtain a copy call 0800 056 5096

For more information on Saga Pet Insurance call 0800 056 5096.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

*Research carried out over the telephone by BMRB on behalf of Saga in May 2005 amongst a sample of 2004 adults aged 16 .

For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.

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